PopCon Indy returns this weekend with games, celebs, after-hours parties and NERF battles

PopCon Indy, a massive celebration of all things pop culture, returns to Indianapolis this weekend for its 10th year with celebrities, games, vendors and new features that include NERF battles.

“When we first started PopCon here in Indianapolis a decade ago, we could only hope it would grow to what it is today,” said Carl Doninger, president of PopCon Indy in a news release. “This is so much more than a comic or gaming convention. It’s an all-weekend event with activities for anyone of all ages – geeks, gamers and your inner child alike."

Doninger, a Broad Ripple resident, told IndyStar that PopCon attendees have a host of exciting things to look forward to, such as the annual cosplay contest as well as after-hours parties that will be open to the general public.

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"We're using the largest ballroom at the Indiana Convention Center and we're decking it out as if we were at the White River State Park amphitheater," Doninger said. "We're flying in DJs and bands. You don't even need to be a PopCon attendee in order to come."

When is PopCon Indy?

PopCon Indy will open its vendor floor at the Indiana Convention Center, 100 S Capitol Ave, from 1-7 p.m. on Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Entertainment and other events will continue into the night.

How to get tickets to PopCon Indy.

Tickets for PopCon Indy are available online, with three-day admission starting at $60 for adults and $10 for children ages 2-10. Kids under two get in free. A family of four can purchase tickets for the entire weekend at $120. Single-day passes are available also for $30-$40. Admission for high school students with their school ID is $23.

Events: PopCon Secret Games

PopCon Indy is bringing back its own non-lethal version of the Squid Games, in which participants will be challenged with childhood games in a last-person standing matchup. As part of the fun, contestants won't be told what the games are until the moment it’s time to play. The winner of the PopCon Secret Games will win a lifetime pass to PopCon, according to its official website.

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40,000 square feet of tabletop gaming — free to the public.

Fans of tabletop games like Pathfinder and Dungeons & Dragons will be happy to know more than 40,000 square-feet of space has been set aside for them to shake a 20-sided die and roll for initiative. Doninger said PopCon has partnered with "Who's Yer Gamers" for a weekend of free gaming in Hall A of the convention center, according to the group's website.

"Who's Yer Gamers is bringing in games that are still in development, including a full-fledged gaming library, so you can just check out a game and play it with your family," Doninger said.

Similar to previous years, Saturday will feature a Pathfinder charity game, The Neverending Dungeon, in which audience members might get pulled on stage to join a party as they battle their way through danger to find treasure. In partnership with Extra Life and the Children's Miracle Network, attendees can donate money to drop either health potions or monsters for the party to face.

NERF Battles

In addition to laser tag, PopCon Indy is offering attendees a chance to step into an arena and shoot at one another with NERF darts for bragging rights. One ticket grants access to all-day play and a NERF gun to keep.

"There's a huge inflatable maze and kids just get to run around like crazy," Doninger said. "We had it in Louisville a couple of months ago and I'd say half the people in there were adults. It was a lot of fun."

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Celebrities you can meet at PopCon Indy.

Dozens of celebrities, artists and media personalities are slated to appear at PopCon this weekend in Indianapolis.

Convention guests include Michael Rooker and Sean Gunn from “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3,” as well as television stars like James Marsters from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” and Power Rangers actor Jason Faunt. Anime voice actors at the convention include Naruto’s Maile Flanagan, and “America’s Got Talent” contestant and cosplayer Freckled Zelda.

Here's a quick list of people to watch out for.

Michael Rooker

Michael Rooker is scheduled to greet fans at Indy PopCon.
Michael Rooker is scheduled to greet fans at Indy PopCon.

Where you've seen him: Guardians of the Galaxy (Yondu Udonta - "I'm Mary Poppins, y'all!"). Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (Henry). Slither. Cliffhanger.

How much for an autograph: $75

James Marsters

Where you've seen him: Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Spike). Angel. Dragonball Evolution (Lord Piccolo). P.S. I love You (John).

How much for an autograph: $60

Stephanie Young

Where you've heard her: Evangelion: 1.0 (Yui Ikari). One Piece (Nico Robin). My Hero Academia (Nana Shimura). Spy x Family (Sylvia Sherwood).

How much for an autograph: $40

Rodger Bumpass

Where you've heard him: SpongeBob SquarePants (Squidward Tentacles). Teen Titans Go! (Dr. Light). Invader ZIM (Professor Membrane).

How much for an autograph: $50

Kara Edwards

Where you've heard her: Dragonball Z (Videl, Goten). My Hero Academia (Bubble Girl). Fruits Basket (Kana Soma).

How much for an autograph: $50

More PopCon Indy activities.

Other activities at PopCon Indy will include film festival, escape rooms, drag shows, a collector card hunt, live podcasting, e-sport tournament, fan panels and workshops, magic shows, as well as a kid zone where children can unwind and color their favorite superheroes.

For more information about the convention, visit PopCon.us.

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John Tufts covers evening breaking and trending news for the Indianapolis Star. Send him a news tip at JTufts@Gannett.com.

This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: PopCon Indy returns in 2023 with games, celebrities, and NERF battles